Day of Healing - Nationwide Bell Ringing Ceremony

A bell stands on a stage next to a speaker's podium.
Scruggs Bell poised for the action during the 400th Commemoration national bell ringing ceremony

NPS Photo

August 25, 2019 was the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, now part of Fort Monroe National Monument, a unit of the National Park System.

This anniversary is commemorated annually at Fort Monroe as a day of healing and reconciliation. In 2021 the park and our partners invite all 423 national parks, NPS programs, community partners, and the public to come together in solidarity to ring bells simultaneously across the nation for four minutes—one for each century—to honor the first Africans who landed in 1619 at Point Comfort, over 400 years of African American history, and to look #400YearsForward together towards the future.

 
 

Bells are symbols of freedom.

They are rung for joy, sorrow, alarm, and celebration...universal concepts in each of our lives. This symbolic gesture enables Americans from all walks of life to participate in this historic moment from wherever they were—to capture the spirit of healing and reconciliation while honoring the significance of over 400 years of African American history and culture, and looking #400YearsForward together into the future.

Since its establishment on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service has cared for extraordinary historic and cultural sites that are pivotal parts of the American narrative. Parks and our programs can be places of healing and reconciliation. Gathering together, in person or virtually at parks or where ever one may be across the country to commemorate the landing of enslaved Africans 400 years ago at a specific time, we honor this powerful moment in American history and the significance of over four centuries of African American history and culture united together looking #400YearsForward.

For parks and our partners, here’s how people engaged with this moment.

Finding a Bell

Bells can be big, small, old, or new... lots of little bells, one church bell, or a carillon. Creativity was invited for a moment that had personal meaning, power, and resonance for everyone involved.

Paticipants were asked this: Make your connection—explore the messaging above about the symbolism of bells. Does your site feature a bell? Share a picture or story about a historic bell, maybe the bell of a ship, on a writing desk, in the collection, in a building, in transportation. What does your bell symbolize? Joy, work, celebration, time, education, technology? Can you connect it to the concept of healing and reconciliation?

Planning the Event

The nationwide bell ringing is planned to be featured on August 21-22, 2021 event, the 402nd anniversary. Details will be released soon. Participants hosting their own event can chose locations to accommodate audiences comfortably and, ideally, were places that had connections to their group or community’s unique stories.

Sharing the Event

Websites:

  • Partners are encouraged to share their events on their websites and social media accounts working with partners. Participating parks should ensure that the events are included in the park’s calendar on NPS.gov.

Local media:

  • Share the news of the events with media in your areas to increase exposure.

Social Media

Social media was a key way to share the moment with sites across the country and with people around the world.

  • The hashtags #RingToRemember and #400YearsForward should be used in posts to expand the audience reach.

  • Explore unique connections and messaging options, invite audiences to share their stories, too.

  • Some participants may create new pages on their websites that explore the meaning behind their unique stories and place to link to from social media posts that day.

Last updated: August 7, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

41 Bernard Road
Building #17

Fort Monroe, VA 23651-1001

Phone:

757-722-FORT (3678)

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